by Nicola Nasser
(Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist in Kuwait, Jordan, UAE and Palestine. He is based in Ramallah, West Bank)
"The Pope’s quotation is also going down into Muslims’ collective memory as fitting into the U.S.-led war on “Islamic terror,” which is cloaked in anti-Islam terminology like President Bush’s blunders of “crusade,” “Islamic terrorists,” and his latest “Islamic Fascists.”
It boils down to be serving as a Catholic justification for an American political-military anti-Islam campaign. “Many Muslims are on the defensive in our modern world with its dominance of western secular perspectives, backed up by brutal military force which is often indistinguishable from the terrorism it claims to be fighting.” (7)
The Pope’s attempts to portray his speech as a scholarly and theological matter is not convincing enough to distance the Vatican from being embroiled in political involvement or to shadow the fact that the Pontiff is also a politician and a head of a state, which helped to undermine communism; no one can expect him to be happy or eager to see a U.S. defeat whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or the overall war on terror.
“Why the pope chose to throw a hand grenade into a powder keg, and why he chose to do it at this moment in history”? asked George Friedman.
“Bush has been trying to portray the war against Islamist militants as a clash of civilizations, one that will last for generations and will determine the future of mankind. Benedict, whether he accepts Bush's view or not, offered an intellectual foundation for Bush's position,” Friedman added. (8)
Nor Muslim observers can isolate the Pope’s defaming quotation from his record of anti-Islam indications:
Benedict XVI during his 17-month papacy has been lecturing Muslims on the need to teach their young to shun violence, suggesting that violence is part of Islam.
Recent statements by senior Catholic bishops have singled out Lebanon’s Hizbullah and the Palestinian Hamas in names as violent groups under his papacy.
“I wish the Catholic pope had considered the reaction to his remarks,” the head of the Egypt's Coptic Orthodox church, Pope Shenouda III, told journalists, adding: “Being enthusiastic about one's religion shouldn't lead to judging other peoples' religions. Criticizing others' faith breeds enmity and divisions.” (11)"